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QUALITY | 9 out of 10
“the well-isolated steering wheel never shudders and the tires always remain firmly planted on the ground”
“Luxury grade trim now rivals the best-in-class”
“surprisingly supple even on the most troubled surfaces”
Kelley Blue Book
Compared to earlier attempts at sport sedans in the not-so-distant past, TheCarConnection.com is impressed by the new 2009 Cadillac CTS, even if the interior feels a little bit over the top.
The 2009 Cadillac CTS has the look—and the feel—to set it apart from competitors inside, according to the majority of reviewers. Most find the interior quality to be top-notch with no mention of any ancillary noises. ForbesAutos.com says, “The instrument panel, steering wheel, portions of the console and door surfaces are covered with leather and vinyl materials that are all cut, sewn and wrapped by hand and neatly eliminate most gaps and seams." Car and Driver mentions the “classy materials and top-notch fit and finish.”
Some of the fundamental features—especially the seats—are a bit controversial, though. Nearly all comment that the sport sedan needs seats that are more supportive in aggressive handling situations. Other reviewers are perfectly happy with the seats and seating space, such as Kelley Blue Book, which notes, “The heated and ventilated front seats use 'thin-seat' technology for improved rear leg, knee and foot room,” so as to give backseat occupants about two inches of additional legroom versus last year’s model. The additional room isn’t enough for others. ForbesAutos.com gripes that the front seats lack ample thigh support, and “the rear seats are ill-suited for any occupant who has graduated from middle school if the trip is longer than, say, 20 miles.” ConsumerGuide warns that larger adults won’t fit well in back and points out that taller drivers might not even fit comfortably, saying, “Marginal headroom is further reduced by the available sunroof.”
The backseat design of the 2009 Cadillac CTS offers some practicality; the backrests fold forward nearly flat for larger parcels, but the constrained side-door access and narrow trunk opening are the limiting factors. Edmunds cites the “ergonomic casualties,” such as awkward access to the backseat through the “triangular door” and the “slot-like trunk opening.”
Additional noise-reduction measures, including triple door seals and more engine sound deadening, are appreciated by discerning reviewers, although some think it could still use some improvement. Car and Driver describes the new DI engine as “smooth and quite muted.” However, engine noise is an issue for several reviewers. Motor Trend, referring to the top-of-the-range 304-hp engine, says, “It's a technically impressive engine, but in truth, it's the CTS's weakest link.” They identify noise and vibration as the real issue, including shaking that makes its way to the pedals and shifter. “It's not overbearing, but you notice it because the rest of the car is so quiet.”
Kelley Blue Book expects a stiff, uncomfortable ride for this sporty sedan but instead finds its suspension “surprisingly supple even on the most troubled surfaces.” Edmunds also reports that in the rough roads of downtown Los Angeles, their test car, with its stiffer FE3 suspension, remains “thoroughly pleasant.” The reviewer especially commends the way in which the suspension soaks up the bumps, adding, “the well-isolated steering wheel never shudders and the tires always remain firmly planted on the ground." This is corroborated by Car and Driver, which compliments the balance between ride and handling even with the tightest FE3 suspension, and says, “Tightly controlled body movements keep it buttoned down, and the rear-drive CTS’s ride never feels harsh. “
Motor Trend editors disagree with their colleagues and state that ride quality suffers with the stiffer FE3 suspension, which “can get jittery over broken pavement,” and recommends the midlevel FE2 as the best compromise for most. ConsumerGuide concurs, saying that the high-performance suspension is a “huge detriment to ride quality, adding undue stiffness with little appreciable gain in handling,” and notes that tire noise can intrude in the otherwise quiet interior. The base engine can sound unrefined at times, they report, while the direct injection engine is “notably more polished, even when pushed.”
The 2009 Cadillac CTS is a GM vehicle that finally has what it takes to compete head to head with German and Japanese luxury sedans.